Kayak startled awake. He thought he heard voices in the distance. Unlikely, he told himself as he drifted back to sleep. It had been months since anyone had even come around.
Sometimes Kayak thought about calling out to remind everyone he was there. He never did, though. Kayak decided he would rather wait for them to come to him. They know I’m here, Kayak reasoned. Besides, what if they decided I’m a burden and got rid of me?
As Kayak shifted in his sleep, the voices seemed to be getting closer. Suddenly, he was jolted awake as he was being hoisted on top of a car. It felt surreal at first, in his groggy haze, but the rush of wind on his body shook him out of his stupor.
If that hadn’t been enough, the shock of cold water certainly would have done the trick. It took a moment for Kayak to let the realization sink in; he was back in the water! As he glided through the lake, he soaked it all up: the warmth in the air, the brightness of the red, orange, and yellow leaves that dazzled despite the cloudy skies, and the feeling of peace that settled over him. Yes, this is where I belong, he thought with a sigh. I don’t know why we don’t come out here more often.
After some time, he was pulled up onto an island shore. A man and a woman stood up from him, stretching and stepping out, leaving Kayak alone. He watched as they explored the island, calling to each other and taking pictures. Kayak could feel their happiness, for it was his happiness, too. It made him regret staying silent all those months alone as he waited for them to remember him.
An idea began to form in Kayak’s mind. He It would certainly shake things up and maybe it would make them realize just how much they needed to be out here, too. For his idea to work, the wind would have to pick up a little bit more and so would the current.
NO! Stupid idea, came a little voice inside his head. You’re just asking for trouble. What if you make the situation worse? What if they never bring you back out here again?
Kayak considered this warning. Yes, he would be taking a risk. It could backfire. But what was the alternative? Stuck behind a shed for the rest of his life, growing old and dusty? He had already spent months like that, alone, waiting for someone to remember him. Now that he was out here, reminded that this was where he belonged, he didn’t ever want to go back to waiting for someone to notice him. He needed to take action and it looked like today might be his only chance.
As he was becoming more resolute in his decision, the little voice again interrupted him, this time more loudly. You’ll be making a mistake. If you do it, that’s it. You can never take it back. The damage will be done. Is that what you want? To never come out here again?
Words of fear and anxiety continued to slip in and out of Kayak’s mind as the couple returned. They were now back in the water, but Kayak found his enjoyment of the day ruined as he wavered in his mind about what to do.
Just then, the wind started picking up. The current grew stronger. The rocking in Kayak’s mind echoed in his body as he was tossed among the waves. It was exactly what he needed for his plan to work. This was his chance and if he was going to act it had to be now.
But Kayak did nothing. The uncertainty of the situation paralyzed him. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t steady himself.
THWACK! As Kayak tried to stabilize himself, he was hit in the side with an oar. The blow shocked Kayak out of indecision. He already knew what it felt like to sit around, waiting, hoping for something to happen. Now was his moment. He was not going to waste it.
With the next gust of wind, Kayak leaned in. Then he let go in the opposite direction. SPLASH! As Kayak flipped himself over, a moment of panic flooded through him as he felt like he was drowning. He could see oars floating in the water and arms and legs thrashing about.
Then he was upright and it was over as soon as it started. He felt another wave of momentum, then one more, as the couple both climbed back into him.
Kayak held his breath. The little voice inside him said nothing, as it was stunned into silence by what he had done.
First there was panting intermingled with coughing. Then came the laughter. Kayak couldn’t believe it – the couple seemed to delight in what happened. He heard one of them say, “Didn’t we used to be better at this?”
“Yep,” said the other one. “Serves us right for not coming out here enough.”
“Then we’ll have to make sure we come out here more often.”
Kayak felt as if the sun suddenly burst through the clouds. His plan had worked! Kayak knew it might not be so simple – maybe they would come out here more often, and maybe they wouldn’t. But he would no longer sit around in silence waiting for that day to come. From here on out, he would make sure they remembered him.